workouts

La Jolla Cove DIY Full-Body Workout

Slowly but surely, I'm seeing the cities and sights of California. Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose and now, San Diego!  

All quick trips, but I've been fortunate to have the world's best tour guide in San Fran and San Diego. Emily made sure we stuck to my jam-packed itinerary and crammed a TON into the 48 hours. 

By far my favorite part of the journey from Los Angeles to San Diego was our afternoon spent exploring La Jolla Cove and creating a workout as we took in the stunning views of sea lions, rainbows, cliffs, caves and the sea. 

Next time you're taking a road trip and don't have access to a gym and think you don't have a second to spare to sneak in some sweat - use some of these moves to stay active wherever you are. Whether it's La Jolla Cove or somewhere else, use your surroundings as inspiration - you don't need fancy machines or equipment. Here's what I came up with at La Jolla: 

La Jolla Cove DIY Workout

LOWER BODY

Romanian Lunge

Single Leg Bench Squat 

Walking Lunges

Step  Ups

Lateral Bunny Hops

Plank Leg Lifts

UPPER BODY 

Bench Push-Ups

Plank Shoulder Taps

Tricep Dips

CORE

Seated Knee Tucks

Mountain Climbers

Russian Twists

Out Of The [Kick]Box Haus

There are only a few fitness fads that I haven’t tried, and a handful that I’ve tried and just haven’t really enjoyed (Barre – ow! Yoga – ugh! Zumba – womp!) 

There are no fitness fads that I’m not willing to give a shot (still need to make my way to a “flirty girl fitness class,” aerial yoga, trampoline and trapeze!) Even if I look like a spaz and make a fool of myself, it’s only for an hour!

Feeling like a total spaz was par for the course during my first boxing class at Work Train Fight – but the challenge fell into the land of “motivating” instead of “demoralizing” (which is how I felt attending a step class full of 60+ jazzercisers before I walked out of the only class I’ve ever quit).

Since then, I’ve taken a few classes at NYSC at have found them to be pretty enjoyable. My arms are always so sore the day after a boxing class and I love that feeling of “OH SHIT I did WORK yesterday.”

So I thought it was time to throw some legs into the mix and attend a kickboxing class – an intimidating idea for someone with little to no coordination when it comes to things that require choreography.

After looking around at some studios, and really wanting to use the 2nd Avenue Subway – I came across The Kickbox Haus on the Upper East Side. Not only did they offer kickboxing, but fusion classes with kettlebells!

I talked to studio owner and instructor Michelle and it sounded like a pretty challenging class – so I signed myself and a friend up and hoped for the best.

Kickbox Haus NYC Review

THE STUDIO

Kickbox Haus is a very small studio with about 10 punching bags set up in very close proximity. There’s really nowhere to put your things – I had to shove my winter coat, boots and backpack behind my punching bag which was odd but worked out fine.

It’s $5 to rent gloves.

THE INSTRUCTOR

Michelle was teaching our class and she was full of personality and energy – she gave lots of instructions and soon we were set up by our bags with kettlebells of varying weights and a mat to get started with some glute and core work. 

THE CLASS

The bulk of the class alternated between kettlebell exercises and bag work.

Michelle is extremely qualified to teach all about kettlebells – a piece of fitness equipment that’s typically misused. She was very adamant about proper form for kettlebell swings which was very helpful. Kettlebell swings tire me OUT, man. I eventually got the hang of them, but 30 seconds straight of kettlebell swinging is no joke.

We also worked on some cleans and I was a little less graceful with those – banging up my elbows, shoulders and wrists pretty well in an attempt to get the kettlebells into the racked position.

My favorite part was the bag work – incorporating not only jabs, crosses, uppercuts, hooks etc. but straight and roundhouse kicks. We did a ladder with roundhouse kicks that sounded simple, but by the time I was up to 10 kicks I was beat!

WHAT I DIDN'T LOVE & WHAT I LOVED

My favorite and least favorite part of the class was actually the same thing – Michelle took a lot of time after each set/exercise to explain what was coming next.

As someone taking my first kickboxing class and still new to Kickbox Haus, I really appreciated the in depth instruction and attention to form and proper technique. That being said, my heart rate kept coming down during the instruction, and if I were a regular I would have been irritated by all of the talking!

The periods of work were hard, don’t get me wrong – but the class overall could have felt like a much better workout if the moves had been explained at the beginning of class and then we powered through them all with less rest.

I still left feeling really glad that I had attended – and wanting to add kickboxing (with an actual bag) to my regular workout routine – as well as using kettlebell swings in more of my DIY gym workouts. They’re a great power+strength+cardio exercise!

The Kickbox Haus offers a variety of classes in additional to kickboxing and kettlebell – there’s TRX training, Muay Thai, American Boxing, and more.

If you’re looking for real training and instruction on proper technique I highly recommend taking a few classes at The Kickbox Haus.

Just bear in mind – there are no showers or changing/locker rooms – it’s a small space with the bare minimum. 

Kickbox Haus NYC

Feelin' So Fly Like AG6

AG6 is Asphalt Green’s fitness class that uses new technology to create a light-up workout experience that’s one of a kind - according to the marketers, at least. 

ag6 asphalt green

THE STUDIO

AG6 takes place in one of the buildings that’s part of the Asphalt Green complex on the Upper East Side. There’s not a dedicated locker room and changing area for the AG6 studio, and instead, participants are asked to wait in the lobby until it’s time for class. There are two bathrooms in the actual studio where you can change if need be, but showering after class would prove to be problematic if you aren’t an Asphalt Green member.

AG6 is open to the public, even if you don’t have an Asphalt Green membership. A little more thought and planning in terms of convenience for those folks would be appreciated.   

The class takes place in the dark, but each of the 7 stations have lights that glow and blink and flash and change colors throughout the 45 minute session.

THE CLASS

The class is high-intensity interval training and we rotated through each station 3 or 4 times. The first round was 30 seconds at each station but after that, we went for a minute at each.

The last round, our instructor gave us the option of going back down to 30 seconds but I loved that myself and another girl said LETS DO A FULL MINUTE. Getting our money’s worth, right?

Station A

We did T-pushups with a weight – with our feet on a bosu ball! It not only worked your chest and shoulders but KILLED your core trying to stabilize for the entire minute.

Station B

We stood in front of a wall with 9 circles. We sprinted up to the wall and tapped the glowing circle – which signaled the light to move to a different circle. Using hand eye coordination and speedy reaction time, we had to hit 4 circles before back-peddling to the starting line and running forwards to repeat for the given amount of time.

Station C

Resistance bands around our ankles, we pivoted in the squat position, moving up and down a line on the ground and trying to stay low with our legs spread wide.

Station E

We used circles on the ground to step out for diagonal lunges while double-shoulder pressing two kettlebells over our head.

On subsequent rounds, we added a kettlebell deadlift to the mix.

Station F

We used gliders on a slippery portion of the floor to do an IMPOSSIBLY difficult mountain climber variation where one foot was on the glider and the other was elevated. Yeah, I don’t know either. I wanted to weep every time I was at this station.

Station G 

With a mat under our knee, we pulsed in the lunge position with a shoulder press, alternating legs every 10 reps.

Station H

This was a cardio-focused station that changed each round – but always included some suicide sprints or pushing a heavy plate down the grass portion of the floor. When we were asked to double hop while pushing the plate, I thought I was going to casually tip over and die.

AG6 Review

THE INSTRUCTOR

Our instructor was a little all over the place when he explained some of the stations – he’d change his mind about what we were doing which made things a little confusing.

The plus was that he was incredibly encouraging and motivating with super high energy throughout the class. Also? He played Dark Horse by Katy Perry which is my all-time favorite song to sweat to.

WHAT I LIKED

One of the things I liked most about this class was the fact that everyone taking it was incredibly nice. It had a great community feel, and most people in the class were clearly regulars. At the end of class, we all high fived and said great job – which is definitely not something you get at a place like SoulCycle.

The other thing I loved was that even though there were clearly people of all fitness levels participating in the class, the moves weren’t dumbed down – they were CHALLENGING.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

I was actually motivated by the lights for the part where you run to the wall and hit the different targets, but for the most part this “state of the art technology” didn’t really seem to contribute much to the class at all. Sure, it looked cool and set the mood, but it didn’t provide any metrics, statistics, or challenge to the class which was disappointing. Our instructor had informed us that some of the technology was acting up – which was the second time I was told that when trying to come in for a review.

It doesn’t seem like the most reliable technology. That being said, it was still a great, challenging class. I just wouldn’t come if you’re only excited about feeling like you’re in a real life video game like some of the advertising suggests.

AG6 Class Review

THE RUNDOWN

THE STUDIO – 6

As I mentioned before – there are no real facilities for those who don’t belong to Asphalt Green. The studio itself is of course, pretty cool – with its black lights and stations built into the ground and walls. It’s also very spacious.

Something to note about AG6 is that their class schedule is limited – so be sure to check their website to see when AG6 classes are offered!

CLASS SIZE - 7

There were only about 10 of us in the class, which was great. That being said, with three people at each station, some of them were a little bit cramped – especially the one where we were pushing plates.

Sweat Scale – 7

This class was definitely a challenge and definitely left me sweaty and sore the next day.

Fun Factor – 8

It was a unique class and the technology helped to keep things fun with flashing lights, changing colors, etc. But the best part was that the class was engaged and supportive.

Amenities – 6

There are two large restrooms easy enough to use as changing rooms before class, but there is nowhere to shower (at least that I was made aware of).

Cost - $$$

Standard for NYC, a class at AG6 costs $35 for non-members and $25 for Asphalt Green members.

AG6 Asphalt Green Fitness Class Review

Bottom Line

I wasn’t as impressed with this technology as I expected to be after reading articles about its ability to tap into an athlete’s “6th sense.” It seems there’s a lot of other studios doing more with metrics than AG6. Sure, working out in a dark room that flashes and blinks and changes colors was cool, but at the end of the day it seemed a little gimmicky. Luckily, the exercises and workout spoke for themselves and provided a challenging class for a great group of people. 

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Photo Credit: Asphalt Green

Body Space Fitness Delivers Solid Strength & Cardio Classes

After reading about Body Space Fitness on one of my favorite blogs, Kayla In The City, I knew I wanted to check it out and review it for myself.

Founder Kelvin Gary's boutique fitness studio first specialized in semi-private (small group) training and personal training sessions but has recently expanded it's offerings to include various group fitness classes.

Torn between Body Camp and Metabolic Burn, I made a last minute decision to take the two classes back-to-back. One at 5 p.m. and the next at 6 p.m.

Read on to find out if I survived - and what I thought of the Body Space Fitness!

Body Space Fitness Class Review

THE STUDIO

Body Space Fitness is super nondescript from the outside. When you open the door on the 5th floor of a building, you're already in the thick of things - with kettlebells being swung, sleds being pushed, and medicine balls being slammed all around you.

Though the space itself isn't extremely large, it is packed with functional training equipment. There's not a stationary machine in sight - something that I absolutely love. There's an entire area where clients can get stretched out and rubbed down, an ALTER-G TREADMILL, and the main work-out floor complete with sandbags, medicine balls, TRX, sleds, kettlebells - they've got it all.

Classes take part on the back half of the "turf" and while things got a little congested during the Metabolic Burn Class, the workout is expertly designed and executed to make things run smoothly and for the space to be shared effectively.

It's as if the instructors are performing choreography in the way that they explain circuits and exercises, set stations up and dismantle them, and keep things flowing.

You can take a virtual tour of the studio on their website!

Body Space Fitness NYC

THE CLASSES

BODY CAMP FORMAT

On Body Space Fitness's website, they describe Body Camp as a "55 minute, strength based class in a small group setting features stations of functional exercises designed to sculpt lean muscles."

100% accurate description.

The class was comprised of a warm up followed by two different strength circuits.

WARM UP

I loved this warm up. Lots of agility/cardio exercises to get the blood flowing. There were only 6 of us in the class and we did high knees, caterpillars, lateral shuffles, karaoke, and more including a few torturous moves with the resistance bands around our ankles.

CIRCUIT ONE

We performed each exercise :42 ON | :18 REST for 3 rounds.

RFE Split Squat - Fancy terminology for "Rear Foot Elevated" Split Squat. These are more like lunges and we performed them hold a kettlebell (weight of your choosing!)
JB Slam - "Jam Ball" (Medicine Ball) Slams
TRX Hamstring Curls- These bad boys BURN and I struggled to do them for the full :42 seconds, especially with proper form (hips UP)
SB BO Row - Sand Bag Bent Over Row (There were tons of different weight options!)
1/2 Knee DB Press - Kneeling shoulder presses with dumbbells

CIRCUIT TWO

Again, we performed each exercise :42 ON | :18 REST for 3 rounds.

KBDL - Kettlebell Deadlifts! I appreciated the fact that the instructor, Dean, came around and encouraged me to up my weight. It's always nice when an instructor pushes you!
V-Ups
Lateral Box Step Up
SB FS - Front squats with the sandbag!
Floor Chest Press

THE INSTRUCTOR

The instructor, Dean Sheremet, was absolutely the best part about the class. He took this from just a circuit workout to a great group fitness class.

He was encouraging, enthusiastic and extremely helpful in terms of describing the format of the class, demonstrating each exercise, challenging people individually, offering advice on form and was also a great DJ (hi, Spice Girls!)

WHAT I LIKED

I loved that you could make this workout as hard as you liked based on the weights that you chose for each exercise.

I thought it was a great mix of leg and arm exercise with abs thrown in their as well. None of the exercises were too difficult to get the hang of, but all really effective!

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE

For some of the exercises, I wanted to challenge myself by going up in weight - especially since this is marketed as a strength focused class. But I found :42 seconds was a long time to perform a strength-based exercise with heavier weights. With the interval set at :42 seconds, it's clearly a more high-rep scenario which means lower weights.

It would be interesting if the amount of time you performed each exercise changed throughout the circuits so that you could experiment more with "going heavy."

Body Space Fitness Body Camp

METABOLIC BURN FORMAT

Described on their website as their "cardio and endurance based class," Metabolic Burn promises to be "filled with high intensity, calorie burning, low impact exercises using a wide variety of toys such as, but not limited to, sleds, battleropes, ViPRs, sandbags and Airdyne bikes. This class, focused more on endurance than strength, gets your heart rate up with 40 second intervals where you do the most amount of reps possible in the allotted time."

THE WARM UP

We did a lot of the same things for Metabolic Burn's warm up as we did for Body Camp. I like this kind of warm-up because it's not static stretching and actually warms you up- I was definitely breathing a little heavy by the end of it!

EXERCISES

We performed the following exercises for :40 seconds with :20 rest as we rotated to the next exercise. We completed this circuit 4 times.

Single Arm Kettle Bell Swings
Sand Bag Shoulder Press - You essentially lifted the sandbag from one shoulder, up and over your head, to the other shoulder. It was deceptively difficult!
Burpee Bear Crawl - Bear Crawl to the front of the turf, burpee, bear crawl backwards to the wall, repeat. I looked like a total spazz doing the Bear Crawl.
TRX Rows
Lateral Shuffle With Resistance Bands
Medicine Ball Jack Knifes
Sandbag Shoulder Squats - Starting with the sandbag on one shoulder and switching it to the other halfway through
Lateral Medicine Ball Throws

As you can see, these exercises were much more cardio focused than Body Camp.

The class finished a a 5 minute "Cardio Blast" where we performed the following exercises for :30 with a :12 rest - 4X through.

Hand Release Push-Ups
Crab Walk
Rope Squats

THE INSTRUCTOR

Nicole Bunyan taught Metabolic Burn and she was great! Supportive, attentive and great at keeping things moving. She had a more difficult job than Dean in terms of keeping things organized since there were so many more people in the same tiny space.

Nicole gave some great tips on form - like keeping your nose pointed up at the ceiling during the medicine ball jack knifes.

WHAT I LIKED

To be fair, Metabolic Burn is just more my style. I like the cardio aspect of classes like this - I like feeling like I'm going to die in a pool of my own sweat because I'm a freak.

I also realllllly liked the fact that a lot of these exercises are low impact. My shins have been bothering me a lot (shocker) and not having to be constantly jumping yet still getting in cardio was great.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE

There wasn't anything I didn't like, really! I didn't love love love it, but it was a very good class all around.

Body Space Fitness Review

THE RUNDOWN

THE STUDIO - 7

What the studio lacks in space and "sparkle" it makes up for in phenomenal functional training equipment, cleanliness and organization. They pack a LOT in the space that they have - and it's all things that help get their clients a killer workout.

After speaking with Kelvin, he explained that they've had some growing pains since incorporating group classes. They're working on expanding and after some renovations, the space should be a lot more conducive to all that Body Space Fitness has got goin' on.

CLASS SIZE - SMALL

Body Camp was a teeeeeny class with only 6 of us. It was great, and we got tons of attention from the instructor because of it.

Metabolic Burn was larger, but in the grand scheme of fitness classes, 12 is still a small class and allows for lots of personal pointers.

SWEAT SCALE - 7

Both Body Camp and Metabolic Burn are the type of workouts that are as hard as you make them. It really depends on how hard you push yourself! I made it through 2 classes without feeling like I couldn't go on - but I also didn't go balls to the wall during Body Camp knowing that I still had another class coming up!

FUN FACTOR - 7

This place had good vibes, great instructors and jammin' tunes. As I changed and got ready, the class prior to Body Camp was RILED UP about something - it sounded like a competition of some sort. My point is, people are happy and having fun here which makes a workout a lot more pleasant!

AMENITIES - 6

They aren't out of this world but they have everything you need. Including a hair dryer in the locker room so that you don't need to lug one in your bag!

I will say that when I got out of class, every single locker in the locker room was being used!

COST - $$$

Unfortunately, this is just the cost of a boutique fitness class in NYC - $32 a pop. But if you're a ClassPasser, you can sign up for classes at Body Space Fitness!

This is the kind of fitness studio that I love. They care about putting together a quality, total body workout that is well designed and not just about having people do burpees until they puke for the sake of it.

They offer a ton of different services, classes and packages and are filled with the type of functional equipment that's most effective (in my humble opinion).

Every time I go to a studio like Body Space Fitness and have wonderful instructors like Dean and Nicole, I'm tempted to cough up the money and time to get my personal training certification!

Definitely stop by BSF if you're looking for a great workout that will leave you in a good mood.

Body Space Fitness NYC Review

Pre-Race Nutrition Tips from a Pro

Hi folks! I survived my first triathlon, but I'm going to keep you in suspense for the recap as I process yesterday's experience. 

In the meantime, I'm going to share some fun nutrition information that Julie Sparkes from The Athlete's Palate shared with me prior to race day. She's been helping me for a few months and I'm happy to report that my stomach cooperated throughout training and tri-day thanks to her advice and guidance. 

So here ya go!

Dos and Donts of Pre-Race Nutrition

1) What are some tips for fueling the week leading up to a race? 

  • Drink lots of water but not too much. Make sure that you are well hydrated but not to the point that you're going to the bathroom frequently. 
  • A week or two before the race when tapering most athletes are really hungry. I recommend that you eat foods with more fiber. A good option is chilli because is so healthy and filling, you can make a big pot and it's easy to reheat during the week. 
     
  • Add fruit to your carbs to help slow down the breakdown and will slowly release in your  digestive system. This will make you feel full longer and will help reduce those snacking habits. 
     
  • Maintain eating foods that your body is used to and easy to digest. This will prevent any digestive issues. 

2) How long of a workout until you should consider refueling during it? 

  • The body is burning energy as soon as you start your workout. Carbohydrate and sodium stores should be replenished every 20 minutes into the workout and continue to be replenished every 20mins. As workouts increase in time or intensity this becomes more critical. 

3) What are your thoughts on carb-loading and how far out from a race would you start? 

  • Carb loading in moderation is important because it gives you a chance to top up your glycogen stores. Glycogen is mainly stored in the liver and muscles. When you fuel, your body breaks down the carbs from your food during digestion and converts the carbs into glucose. Your body will use the glucose right away and will store the remainder in your muscles. The greater the glycogen storage you have, the longer you will be able to maintain your exercise intensity. 
     
  • With being said, for endurance sports I recommend to eat a good serving of healthy carbs during your training 3-4 days before your race.  
     
  • Here are some examples of carbs that are high in nutrients and carbohydrates: 

Starchy Vegetables

  • Potatoes
  • Yams
  • Squash
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Taro
  • Pumpkin
  • Plantain
  • Beets

Whole Grains

  • Brown Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Farro
  • Oats
  • Bulgur
  • Whole Rye
  • Whole Barley
  • Buckwheat
  • Freekeh

4) Pre-race meal (the night before and morning of) tips

  • Eat food that your body is used to and easy to digest. Don't try anything new the day before the race or the morning of. Eat meals that are high in complex carbs, healthy fats and lean protein. 

5) Is a post-race beer detrimental to recovery? 

  • As a holistic nutritionist I can't say that alcohol in anyway is beneficial but with that being said I like to have a celebratory beverage just like the next person. Life is all about balance and sometimes it is good to reward yourself! On a positive note beer does have the perfect carb to protein ratio with 4:1 which helps with recovery. 
TOBAY Triathlon

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Ready or Not - Here (tr)i Come

Somehow, the Tobay Triathlon is upon us. In two sleeps I will be waking up in my childhood bed at an ungodly hour to journey to my first multi-sport race.

Joining me on the course will be two amazing ladies and the world's best support squad. Yet despite the comforts of home, the fun of racing with two friends, and the support of family members:

I am straight up petrified, people.

First Triathlon Fears

This is the first time in awhile that I'm attempting something I've never done before and it's scary. I've tried thinking back to how I felt before my first marathon and I don't think I was this stressed out. With my marathon, I bought into the whole "trust your training" mantra hook line and sinker.

WINEGLASS Marathon

But with this tri, my training hasn't had me run into the Long Island Sound with hundreds of other people kicking, swimming, and splashing around and on top of me.

Physically, I know I can handle a sprint distance triathlon. Mentally, it's a whole 'nother story.

It's no secret that I've struggled with swimming. Multiple times I've cried about it (dramatic, I know). I'm not comfortable in a 4 foot deep pool with no one around me. How the hell am I going to make it a half mile in the murky, crowded Sound?

Triathlon Training Open Water Swim

It comes down to determination and reminding myself of how far I've come and how badly I've wanted to become a triathlete. It's focusing on the fact that I have overcome a lot of mental challenges already - getting to the starting line wasn't a cake walk. Here's a reminder to myself of how I got here:

  • Over a year ago I got myself into a pool. I've consistently swam, even taking lessons in a disgusting Chinatown pool, for over a year despite dreading it each and every time.
  • I worked for months at a running store after my 9-5 day job - saving everything I made there until I could buy myself a road bike.
  • Embarrassment didn't stop me from clipping in for the first time in the middle of Central Park completely alone - where I promptly tipped over into a giant patch of mud.
  • Despite my initial fears, tears, falls and flats - I've learned to love my bike. It's taken me fun places, brought my roommate and I closer, and even introduced me to new friends.
Palisades Bike Ride
  • Biking and swimming provided an outlet while I suffered through months off from running.
  • Being able to swim in a giant pool in the middle of Central Park is just one of those NYC things that makes me question how I could ever leave. Also, I question how I never noticed Lasker Pool until this summer.

As I was typing this and listening to showtunes (naturally) - I Have Confidence from The Sound Of Music came on. New theme song for Sunday:

I've always longed for adventure

To do the things I've never dared

Now here I'm facing adventure

Then why am I so scared

So many people have promised me that during my first tri, many things can and WILL go wrong - but that I will still absolutely love it. We'll find out if that's the case on Sunday!

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Ready To Be A Triathlete After the World's Worst Swim

MY SWIMMING BACKGROUND 

Hint: Non-Existent 

It was over a year ago that I took my first trip to the New York Sports Club pool to attempt swimming as exercise. I grew up on the water – swimming at the beach, in the ocean, on my boat, in friends’ pools - but was never enrolled in swim classes. I was a professional doggy paddler/breast stroker/water treader/noodle floater. And that was fine with me. 

While most kids and teenagers enjoyed somersaulting in the water and having handstand contests, I was petrified of going under water after several painful experiences with swimmer’s ear. At water parks I exclusively went on rides that involved tubes of some sort. On a trip to Hawaii my family marveled at the sea creatures they saw snorkeling while I felt claustrophobic near the coral reefs.

Beginner Triathlete

Getting My Feet Wet 

If You Want to Tri, You've Got to Try

That first attempt at swimming laps had me all sorts of nervous about putting my face in and head under. I was frustrated but not all that surprised by the fact that I struggled. But I had gotten the idea in my head that I was going to be a triathlete and so – I signed up for lessons. I learned a ton about technique and form but my practice sessions were few and far between as I lacked the motivation to partake in exercise that I was a) awful at b) didn’t enjoy whatsoever. I even wrote a post about all the things I had learned from my swimming workouts – you smell the rest of the day, your eyes are sleepy, my hair doesn’t fit under swim caps, the list of excuses I had to do any workout BUT swimming went on and on.

Beginner Triathlete

BECOMING MICHAEL PHELPS

A Breakthrough?

But then I was injured and not running and was more seriously looking into my first triathlon. I began going to the pool once a week on a consistent basis. It was just a few weeks ago that I started to actually look forward to these workouts and feel just a tad more confident. I was swimming over a mile in a workout and while my pace was slow I felt I was improving.

When I read about NYC Parks summer lap program, I was so excited. I could swim outside at a pool that was 63 YARDS LONG instead of the 18 yard pool I had been stuck in. I was convinced that this would be an amazing experience, perfect practice, and I set off on Monday morning ready to rock and roll. 

It was a gorgeous morning and when we ran up to the pool through Central Park, the water was shimmering in the sun. We talked to an Ironman while waiting for the gate to open which made my even more excited for this next step in my training.

We hopped in the pool and it wasn’t a disgusting 90 degrees like New York Sports Club but a beautiful, crisp temperature that warmed up immediately when you started moving. I clung to the edge and looked across the pool thinking, “Shit this is long. There are no lines. There are a lot of people swimming near me.” I quieted the voice in my head reminding myself that all of those things were what made this great practice for my triathlon. I took a deep breath, pushed off and set out for my first uninterrupted 63 yard swim.

Lasker Pool Central Park

DROWNING

Absolutely Not Michael Phelps

I was immediately uncomfortable with the lack of line to follow below me and I was thinking on repeat, “Where’s the other side, where’s the other side.” I was so uptight and anxious that I couldn’t relax into my stroke whatsoever.

I stopped and stood up in the 3 foot deep water as my eyes pricked with tears. I was one second away from a full-blown panic attack. I took a deep breath and plunged myself back in – hard to get going without a wall to kick off of. When I finally made it to the other side my roommate was there and we both gave each other a look that said, “Oh my God what have we done?” Then we said to each other, “OMG THAT WAS SO HARD!”

At least I knew I wasn’t alone in the fact that 63 yards had felt like an eternity.

Eventually, we figured out the circle swim pattern that everyone was following and I started to flip onto my back when I got tired which is what I’ve read to do during the open water swim portion of a triathlon. But during 45 minutes and over 1200 yards, I didn’t once successfully make it across the pool without stopping to stand. I felt like a complete failure.

I’m still unsure how much of a mental thing this was vs. a physical thing – all I know is it was a huge wake up call to the challenges of open water swimming vs. lap swimming in a pool where you reach a wall every 18 yards.

NYC Lap Swimming

WHAT HAVE I DONE

Am I Cut Out for Triathlons? 

Monday completely knocked me down. All the work and progress I thought I had achieved in swimming came crashing down and the worst part was how excited I had been before I pushed off from the wall for the first time. My pride was bruised and I was embarrassed for everyone at the pool to see how much I was struggling.

I had been feeling confident about doing a triathlon at the end of the summer and now I was seriously questioning paying $135 to not even make it through the first leg. I was convinced there was no way I could complete a half mile open water swim after that complete and utter failure.

TURN YOUR FROWN UPSIDE DOWN 

Why This Was A #Blessing

I got home and I looked at the pictures I had taken from the pool and realized what an amazing opportunity I had been given.

I swam outside in one of the most iconic parks in the world.

I woke up, rolled out of bed, and ran there in less than 10 minutes.

It was a beautiful, sunny Monday morning.

It was completely free.

I had realized at a perfect time that there is a lot more work for me to do before I’m ready for a triathlon – while I’m training, not while I was in the middle of the Long Island Sound.

I now have the chance to suck it up and get myself to the pool twice a week instead of once – three if I need to - and slowly but surely 63 yards won’t seem so impossible.

And so when I got home, I posted my atrocious 3+ minutes per yard pace on Strava and promised myself that I would make it official by shouting out to the internet –

I am training for my first triathlon on August 28. The TOBAY Sprint Triathlon will be my first attempt at becoming a triathlete – something I’ve been wanting to do for over a year now but was too scared to officially sign up for.

Lasker Pool Central Park NYC

While practice makes perfect, I do know that there is a lot I need to overcome mentally to get myself through an open water swim. People who know I grew up tubing, boating, water-skiing and kayaking are shocked to hear how panicked the idea makes me. But it’s a physical reaction when I think about it – my chest tightens, I get nauseous, and I want to break down and cry.

But my friend Sarah, an amazing inspiration and Ironman, reminded me that to be afraid means that I am challenging myself and that I am respecting the challenge of a triathlon.

August 28 is terrifying to me. But I know that overcoming the crushing fear will make the finish line that much sweeter.

YOUR TURN:
WHAT IS THE SCARIEST THING YOU’VE EVER DONE?
DO YOU HAVE ANY SWIMMING TIPS FOR ME? PLEASE?

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Very Meh About BFX

Remember when I got the deal of a lifetime? 5 classes via Class Pass for $20? $4 a class? Well, turns out I had a brain fart and missed one of the classes. So instead, I only got to try out 4 classes. C'est la vie. 

For my last class I attended BFX Build at BFX's Chelsea studio (555 6th Avenue - between 15th & 16th streets and conveniently RIGHT next to the FM subway).

BFX Studios Review

THE STUDIO

It was a surprise for me to learn that BFX partners with Cyc - a spin class that I've taken quite a few times. (You can read reviews here and here).

BFX offers a ton of different membership and class options. Their website, to be completely honest, is confusing and overwhelming. There are Cyc classes, BFX Burn, BFX Build, BFX Barre, Box & Strength, BFX PTC Endure, BFX TRX, BFX Friction and BFX PTC Lift. Not to mention there is a personal training area with tons of cross-fit-esque machines like the air bike and True From treadmills.

On top of all that, they market their use of heart rate monitors pretty heavily on their website despite the fact that when I showed up and asked for one to use during class I was told that, "They don't usually work." Heart rate monitors weren't mentioned once during the class - not even a reference to what percent of your heart rate you should be working at throughout the circuits.

To me, it seemed that BFX is having a little bit of an identity crisis. They're trying to do it all. Trying to be a crossfit box, boutique group fitness studio, gym, cycling studio, Orange Theory amalgamation. And to be quite frank - they're not only failing to be good at all of the above - they're failing to be great at any one of those things.

BFX Studios NYC Review

The class I took is described as

A combination of TRX, kettlebells and UGI balls, this dynamic, full-body workout will build lean muscle, develop your core, improve your strength and fuel your body and mind.

And to be fair, it did all of the above. Except maybe fueling my mind. 

THE CLASS

BFX Build was set up as a circuit after a short warm up of jogging in place and jumping jacks. 

CIRCUIT ONE

:60 Walk Out Push-Up Ladder - start with one walk-out push-up, work your way up to as many reps as possible within a minute.

2 Minutes Single Leg Dead Lifts (:60 each leg) - for PT, I've been doing a lot of unweighted single-leg dead lifts and its been challenging because balance and glute/hamstring strength are not my specialties. Seeing people doing single leg dead lifts with 35 pound kettlebells was a real wake up call as I struggled with an 18 pounder.

:60 TRX Pushups - These not only burned my arms, but my abs!

:60 Burpees - I found myself completing 13-15 burpees in the 1 minute time frame.

X 3

We completed this circuit three times through with no rest for a total of 15 working minutes.

AB CIRCUIT

This section was really called "ab blaster" or "ab burner" or something like that but I can't seem to remember the exact terminology. Semantics.

:30 Slow Mountain Climbers With Sliders- the instructor, Derek, really encouraged us to do these slowly and focus on using our abs to draw our knees in without moving our hips. I really appreciated the fact that he made it clear that form was more important than anything else.

:30 Up and Outs - Leg lowers/raises with a booty pop at the top to really hammer home the lower ab work.

X 3

Again, we went through the circuit 3 times without stopping for 3 minutes of ab work. 3 minutes straight of ab work will really give you a nice burrrrn.

CIRCUIT TWO

:30 TRX Row Right Arm- These took some getting used to and while they don't appear like a big arm workout, once you get the form down right you're sure to feel it!

10 Reps Kettlebell Row Right Arm - going from TRX row to kettlebell row on the same arm was a big challenge.

:30 TRX Row Left Arm

10 Reps Kettlebell Row Left Arm

:60 TRX Back Lunge Left Leg- these were really hard. With one leg in the TRX strap, you had to go into a back lunge until your back knee touched the ground. Then, to make things even harder, on your way up, Derek encouraged us to add a hop. These were killlllllller.

:60 TRX Back Lunge Right Leg

:30 Kettlebell Thrusters - These are a pretty common Crossfit exercise and one that Derek came around and helped me out with form-wise. I always love getting tips during a class - it's like a mini personal training session!

:30 Kettlebell Swings - Derek told me I should be using the 35 pound kettlebell for these instead of the 18 pound one I swung on the first round of this circuit. EEK! I hated how hard it was, but liked being challenged and pushed.

X 3

We repeated this circuit 3 times for 15 minutes of work.

AB CIRCUIT

We finished up with another 3 minute ab circuit. 

:30 Army Crawls With Sliders- Oh boy, I don't think I ever realized how hard these are when your feet are on sliders!

:30 Jack Knifes

X 3

Total: 36 minutes of work + Warm Up + Cool Down for a total of 50 minutes. 

THE INSTRUCTOR

Derek was a good instructor who helped with form throughout the class, was full of encouragement, and explained each circuit ahead of time. He had a laid back yet "work hard" vibe about him. 

BFX Studios NYC

WHAT I LIKED: 

  • I love a class that's broken into circuits. These went by fast, though I didn't love repeating the same circuit three times in a row without a break. 
  • This class encouraged you to use heavy weights.
  • Derek was attentive to form and offered corrections throughout the class.
  • The ab circuits hurt like hell, and I've been slacking in that department so it was a nice change.
  • I liked using TRX, Kettlebells AND gliders since I don't use them a ton on my own. 
  • I was sore as hell the next day, which made me feel like even if I didn't love the class, it had been effective. 

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: 

  • Unfortunately, I disliked more about this class than I liked. First of all, I didn't like the fact that they advertise as using heart rate technology and that was completely non-existent from my experience.
  • The room was pretty damn crowded and they ran out of some sizes of kettlebells that I would have liked to use.
  • I understand that this was a strength focused class, but I prefer classes with a little more cardio.
  • I didn't really love any of the exercises. I know, I know - it's supposed to be hard and challenging, not "fun." But there are some exercises that while tortuously difficult, are also somehow enjoyable. You know what I mean? I think you know what I mean. It's different for everyone. For me, this class didn't have any of those "ouch but yay lets do it" exercises.
  • I didn't get any sort of community vibe from the studio. 

THE RUNDOWN

*Based on a scale of 1-10

The Studio - 8
The space was large and had two studios along with an entire separate gym area with tons of equipment - air bikes, rowers, spin bikes, a True Form treadmill, etc.

Class Size - Large
The class was packed and I do think it affected the experience.

Sweat-Scale - 7
I was definitely sweaty by the end of this but like I said - it was a much more strength-focused workout so I didn't have that "holy cow I'm sweating buckets because I just did sprints and burpees" sweat.

Fun-Factor - 5
Unfortunately, I was very very solidly "meh" at the end of this class.

Amenities - 7
What you would expect from a boutique fitness studio. Nothing over the top, but very luxurious for us New York Sports Club regulars.

Cost - $$$ 
(<$20 = $, $20-$30 = $$ and $30+ = $$$) 

BOTTOM LINE

If you're looking for a circuit based class - I would look elsewhere. I've taken classes that I leave SO excited about. There are classes that I can't wait to share with readers because I want them to go and feel the same endorphin-induced high that I got from the class.

BFX wasn't one of those classes. It just left something to be desired and was lacking that extra "oomph." I really think it has to do with the fact that they're trying to do too much.

BFX NYC

You can read about the other Class Pass workouts I tried below! 

WTF: WORK TRAIN FIGHT

B|X: BRICK

CONCRETE JUNGLE CROSS FIT

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Is An Equinox Membership Worth Your Hard-Earned Cash?

In New York City, Equinox is typically known as the gym you go to if you're rich, ripped or runway-worthy. While I am none of those things, I did enjoy my few days as a member. You can read my reviews of the 5 classes I checked out here:

Ropes & Rowers
PURSUIT Spin
METCON3
30/60/90
Athletica

People pay big bucks for memberships at Equinox. Like, $200+ a month. That may sound cray cray to you, but there were quite a few times that I started to seriously consider whether or not it was worth it.

Is An Equinox Membership Worth It?

Reasons Equinox Is Worth The Hype

INNOVATIVE CLASSES

There are a huge variety of classes to choose from as an Equinox member. Many of these classes aren't cookie-cutter yoga and Zumba that you find at some other gyms. Equinox is pushing the envelope and offering cutting-edge classes that use new technology and the latest trends in fitness.

The Ropes & Rowers class was an awesome experience - one that people pay lots of money to take at boutique fitness studios like Row House and City Row where classes cost upwards of $30. 

A class like PURSUIT Spin uses new technology to create a unique experience that you won't find in just any spin class.

TOP-NOTCH EQUIPMENT 

All of the machines in Equinox are so shiny and new looking! And the fact that they casually roll in water-rowers and battling ropes for a 45 minute class blows my mind. 

There are not just a huge variety of foam rollers, but STICKS for your recovery sessions.

Sadly, I never got around to doing my own weight session at Equinox - I only took classes - but from what I saw, there are a LOT of options and no one area was ever over-run with people. Which brings me to - 

SPACE

Equinox gyms, at least the 3 locations that I saw, are pretty massive. So much room for activities! There's a main studio, a yoga studio, a spin studio and a room with Megaformers (torture device)!  

CLASS SIGN-UPS

Aside from spin classes and the treadmill-based group fitness class - there are no sign-ups required for Equinox classes. Is this easy? YES. Does it mean some classes can get pretty packed? Yes, it means that as well. But there is no dealing with cancelling, paying cancellation fees, signing up the second the class opens up online, etc. that is required at a lot of other gyms. 

*For me, I like the accountability of signing up and knowing I'm going to get charged if I don't show up. BUT, it's frustrating when something comes up last minute and it's not my laziness that's preventing me from getting to the gym. 

THOSE SHOWERS

When I start my day with a shower at NYSC, I don't feel exceptionally clean. 

After 5 days of showers at Equinox - I felt like I had been showering in a spa. Those Kiehl's products, the spaciousness of the showers - there's something to be said for ending a workout with a luxurious feeling shower instead of "how quick can I make this, some woman's hair is caked to the side of this shower and it's way too close for comfort." 

CAFES & JUICE 

Most Equinox locations have a cafe or juice bar attached to them. If you can afford the $200 membership, it probably means you can also afford the $10 green juice post-workout. 

Why I'm Not Going To Give Equinox All My Money

At the end of the day, Equinox does offer an elevated gym experience. There's no denying it.

But a gym,when all is said and done, is a place for you to go to move, sweat and lift heavy things. And a gym with a $50 membership still lets you do all of those things. 

The gym is what you make it. Your workout is what you make it. And with the money you save on a cheaper gym, you can spend a day at a spa, luxuriating in marble showers. You can take a few boutique classes at a place like SWERVE or The P.E. Club. You can afford that mid-week or post-hangover green juice even though it's insanely overpriced. 

And you can still get in a great workout. You can still find kick-ass classes with top-notch instructors. You can be creative with the available equipment. 

And you can have some extra cash moneyz for things like margaritas and ice cream cones because 

SPRING IS HERE! 

Then again - you could say, "I go to the gym every day and therefore I'm willing to pay top dollar for the best of the best." 

You could also say, "I have a body and the great outdoors - I don't need to no stinkin' gym!" 

Or, you could say, "Give me SOULCycle or give me death! I just want a membership at my favorite boutique studio." 

I'm not here to tell you what to do. But for me, a moderately priced gym as a place to take classes and do my strength training is what I require - the rest of the time  you'll find me pounding the pavement, riding my bike (ugh) or treating myself to the occasional boutique fitness class. 

And if I magically get a large raise or win the lottery despite not buying lotto tickets - maybe you'll find me at Equinox. 

For now, I'll be at NYSC avoiding the hairy showers.  It was fun, Equinox. 

YOUR TURN: 
IS A GYM MEMBERSHIP SOMETHING YOU ARE WILLING TO SPLURGE ON? 
WHAT'S YOUR BIGGEST PET PEEVE ABOUT YOUR GYM? 

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My Week At Equinox: Athletica

I'm taking you along for the ride on my 7 days as an Equinox member. Check out my other posts: 

Ropes & Rowers
PURSUIT Cycling + A Swim
METCON3
30/60/90

Day 5 & 6: Sorry, Equinox 

I had planned on taking some yoga or pilates classes at Equinox over the weekend, but that didn't end up happening. Instead, I took the day off on Saturday and ran a 4 mile race in Central Park on Sunday.

Day 7: Athletica 

Athletic Equinox Review

It seems that I unintentionally ended up saving the best for last in my 7 day free-trial at Equinox. 

I had planned on starting the week on the right foot with a morning gym class on Monday. But when I found myself at Game 6 of the Islander's playoff series against the Florida Panthers - a game that ended in double overtime - and not in my bed until well past midnight, I knew that wasn't in the cards. 

Instead, I used my lunch break to go to a class called Athletica on my lunch break. 

The Equinox website describes Athletica as, "Sculpt and train your body like an athlete for an hour. Ilaria’s new class burns fat and delivers a strong athletic body. High intensity exercises based on power endurance and progressive strength training and strong emphasis on a strong core. Be prepared to sweat and test your willpower!"

I also realized that on the Equinox website, it gives you a chart explaining the focus of each class as it relates to strength, cardio, flexibility and regeneration. This is a great feature that I wish I had used earlier in my trial! 

Athletic Equinox Review

THE SET UP 

For this class all you need is your body and a few different sets of dumbbells. I picked up 10, 12, 8 and 5 lb dumbbells and ended up using them all at different points in the class. 

CIRCUIT ONE 

  • 16 Dumbbell Clean & Presses 
  • 8 Weighted Squat Thrusts
  • 24 Double-Dumbbell Swings (Wide or Narrow Stance) 
  • 24 Renegade Rows
  • :60 4 Jumping Lunges + Burpee 

CIRCUIT TWO 

  • Repeat

CIRCUIT THREE 

  • Repeat
  • We changed up the :60 of cardio to 2 Jumps Squats + Burpee 

"REST" - DELT STRENGTH WORK 

  • :60 Alternating Front Raises
  • :60 Alternating Single Arm/Double Arm Lateral Raises
  • :60 Flys 
  • :60 Alternating Hammer Curl and Press with palms facing in 

CIRCUIT 4

For this round, each exercise got an added +8 reps. The cardio portioned remained :60 long.

  • 24 Dumbbell Clean & Presses 
  • 16 Weighted Squat Thrusts 
  • 32 Double-Dumbbell Swings (Wide or Narrow Stance) 
  • 32 Renegade Rows
  • :60 4 Jumping Lunges + Burpee 

CIRCUIT 5 

  • Repeat

"REST" - DELT STRENGTH WORK 

  • :60 Alternating Front Raises
  • :60 Alternating Single Arm/Double Arm Lateral Raises
  • :60 Flys 
  • :60 Alternating Hammer Curl and Press with palms facing in 

"LETS REST A LITTLE MORE BEFORE WE FINISH WITH ONE MORE CIRCUIT" 

  • 10 Pushups
  • :10 Rest
  • 8 Rounds.

CIRCUIT 6

  • 24 Dumbbell Clean & Presses 
  • 16 Weighted Squat Thrusts 
  • 32 Double-Dumbbell Swings (Wide or Narrow Stance) 
  • 32 Renegade Rows
  • :60 4 Jumping Lunges + Burpee 

Holy SMOKES. 

By far one of the best gym classes I've taken.

WHAT I LIKED 

The fact that this was a circuit-style class obviously appealed to me, since that's my favorite way to strength train. 

Each move within the circuit was a compound exercise which means we were working more than one muscle group at a time. But then, when we did the sets of delt exercises, we were focusing on isolation exercises. 

Even though there was no real "rest" the isolation exercises were the perfect time for your heart rate to settle down before ramping it back up again with more circuits. HIIT at it's finest. 

I was dripping sweat, the moves weren't requiring me to jump up and down (aside from the burpees) and I was using my ENTIRE body throughout the class. 

Plus, I loved the fact that this was a true strength training class - I felt strong and used 10 or 12 lb. dumbbells - not 5 pounders (except for those front and lateral raises - woooof!)  

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE

The only real complain I have is that the studio was FRRRREEEZING cold. The weights hurt to hold because the metal was so cold. But honestly, after one circuit the sweat had started to drip and I forgot I had ever been chilly.

This was quite the way to wrap up my classes at Equinox.

I wish I had fit in more during my 7 days - I planned on some two-a-days with a strength class + yoga or abs/Pilates but it didn't end up happening. C'est la vie.

Next post, I'll wrap up my final thoughts about the experience - did I end up so enamored that I joined? Stay tuned.

CLIFFHANGER!

YOUR TURN:
O YOU HAVE A FAVORITE GROUP FITNESS CLASS?
WHY IS IT YOUR FAVORITE?

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My Week At Equinox: 30/60/90

I'm taking you along for the ride on my 7 days as an Equinox member. Check out my other posts: 

Ropes & Rowers
PURSUIT Cycling + A Swim
METCON3

30/60/90 Equinox Review

Day 4: 30/60/90

I thought the class I was going to was going to be "Whipped" but turns out, I ended up in 30/60/90 - a non-stop, sweaty, cardio-centric HIIT class. 

SET-UP

You guessed it - exercises performed for 30 seconds, 60 seconds and 90 seconds. There is literally NO rest the entire class. You're "recovery" is all active recovery which means non-stop moving. At the end of each interval, you're encouraged to step it up a notch for the final 15 seconds! 

EQUIPMENT

This class used a step, a body bar and yourself for a mix of plyometric, cardio and strength moves. 

WHAT I LIKED

  • SO MUCH SWEAT! There is no way to leave this class feeling like you didn't get in a good workout. 
  • Since I was taking the week off from running, I liked that this class had a lot of cardio moves with the stepper. That being said, when I'm running a lot, I tend to try to find gym classes that focus more on strength for my cross-training days. 
  • The class ended with 3 :30 intervals where you picked your 3 favorite moves from the class. Freestyle! 

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE 

  • The instructor didn't really give any corrections - because he had to stay at the front of the room constantly letting us know what was up next. 
  • Jumping is rough on my shins, especially on hard gym floors. 30/60/90 has a lot of jumping. 

This class is not for the faint of heart. Now that I've gone once, it would be really daunting for me to get my butt in there again knowing how much work it was going to be. But it's totally worth it for the sweat & endorphins you'll have at the end of 45 minutes!

YOUR TURN: 
DO LIKE HIIT WORKOUTS? 

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My Week At Equinox: METCON3

I'm taking you along for the ride on my 7 days as an Equinox member. You can read about my first class, Ropes and Rowers, here and my second class, PURSUIT spin, here.

METCON3 at Equinox Review

Day Three: METCON3

On Thursday, I had a PT appointment in the morning which meant an after-work gym visit. I'm not a big fan of waiting until the end of the day for my workout, but knowing I had a class I wanted to check out helped motivate me to go. Plus, I knew all I had to do was what the instructor told us to do - no thinking required.

Still, at the end of a long day I was a little nervous about the "fat incinerating" total body workout that METCON3 is advertised as.

THE SET UP

The way this class works is my favorite way to workout - pick a bunch of exercises, do them all without stopping. Rest. Repeat.

10 Exercises.
Perform each exercise for 60 seconds.
Rest 60 seconds.
Repeat 10 exercises for 60 seconds each.
Rest 60 seconds.
Repeat again.

That's three rounds of a 10-exercise circuit, for those of you who saw lots of numbers and skipped ahead.

THE EXERCISES

  • Box Front Squat with Dumbbells
  • Incline row in plank position
  • Plank Jax + Pushups
  • Diagonal lunge with dumbbell high pull
  • Regular Pushup/Incline Pushup
  • Squat slams
  • Step up lunges
  • Curl and press sitting on box with feet up
  • Toe taps
  • Incline bicycle

FINISHERS

Just when you're relieved that you've made it through round #3 - hold up (wait a minute, put a little boom in it - booooom dynamite...). There's more.

  • 20 Single arm sand bag slams
  • 20 Should tap puships
  • 20 Butt kick jumps

No rest in between those three finishers. Wooooof.

WHAT I LIKED

I loved the way that METCON3 was set up. The circuit-style is my favorite. I also really liked the fact that METCON3 wasn't just a cardio class with burpees and jumping jacks, etc. There were weights and lots of strength moves.

It was also great that each of these moves had different levels that the instructor offered. A level 1, 2, 3 (hard, harder and hardest they should have been called!)

By the end of the class, you could challenge yourself by trying to "level up" on one or more of the exercises.  Or just try to make it to the end alive. Either way.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE

I didn't like the fact that the instructor started class and taught us all the exercises along the way. It meant that the entire first round of exercises I was unsure what I was doing which meant a lot of wasted time not actually doing the exercises.

It would have been easy enough to run through the 10 exercises ahead of time, which would have helped a lot to make round 1 more efficient (and sweatier).

However, since that's just the particular instructor that I had, I would definitely recommend the METCON3 class at Equinox. Or, just use this format to set up your very own kick-ass workout! Just try to make sure you're using exercises that target all the different muscle groups.

YOUR TURN: 
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE EXERCISES TO PUT INTO A CIRCUIT? 

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My Week At Equinox: Ropes & Rowers

When I first moved to New York City, I prided myself on 12+ months bouncing from gym to gym on free-trial memberships and Groupons. I was a poor college student who was trying her damnedest to stay fit without paying for a membership fee. 

NYSC, David Barton, Crunch, 24-Hour Fitness - you name it, I found a way to get a free trial.

One place that I always held off on was Equinox. The reason I never signed up for a free trial there, despite being bombarded by emails from them, is that I'm going to be so sad when it's over.  

Equinox is like the Emerald City of gyms in New York City. It's got the answer to everyone's problems, just like the wizard. Everyone raves about their clean locker rooms stocked with Kiehl's shower products. Everyone knows Equinox is filled with fabulously fit people using all the latest equipment. If you're thinking, "If I only had a brain..." nope, you don't need one because Equinox has so many different classes that take all the thought out of figuring out your workout plan. 

So I've been hesitant to activate my free trial because of the sadness that will come when it's over and I have to say goodbye. But the perfect storm of scenarios arose and today I started my 7-days as an Equinox member. 

After an 8-mile long run on Sunday, I promised my physical therapist to take 5 days off of running so I could go back and re-asses before ramping up my mileage in the final weeks before the Brooklyn Half Marathon. 

A few weeks ago, I had my InBody scan done at Equinox as part of a ProjectFit through my work - our final weigh in is on May 4 and I had to activate my 7-day trial before then. 

SO - no running for 5 days but the green light for any other exercise seemed like the perfect opportunity to try out as many Equinox classes as I could fit into a 7-day span. Challenge accepted. 

Equinox Ropes and Rowers

Day 1: Ropes and Rowers

The first class I signed up for was called "Ropes and Rowers." Equinox describes it on their website as, "A full body circuit built on battling ropes and the WaterRower, driving balanced strength and greater cardio fitness to propel your performance. The exhilarating solo and team competition will push you to bring it, beat it and brag about it." 

Warm-Up 

First, the instructor described to us how the class would work - quickly demonstrating each exercise. Then, we did a 2-3 minute warm-up with a rotation of

  • 50 high knees
  • 10 burpees
  • 10 push-ups
  • 30 mountain climbers

I was a little scared for class to start after that warm-up. 

Set-Up

The class was set up in four separate stations which you rotate through 2 times. Though the workout is technically only 28 minutes long - I guarantee you'll feel accomplished by the end of it. 

Round One - 4 Minutes Per Station (16 Minutes Total)

Station One - 

  • 1 Minute Up and Overs on the Stepper 
  • 1 Minute Weighted Punches
  • 1 Minute Burpees with a Push-Up on the Stepper 
  • 1 Minute Knee Ins and Pike Ups with the Glider

Station Two - The Ropes

  • One partner stands on weights while the other does rope variation (squat jumps, in and outs or burpees) 
  • Pull the weight/ropes towards you 
  • Push the weight back 
  • Switch 

Station Three - Weights 

  • 10 Reps Squat/Curl/Press with 12 lb dumbbells 
  • 10 Reps Row/Tricep Extension with 8 lb dumbbells 
  • 10 Reps V-Ups with 12 lb dumbbells 

Station Four - WaterRower

  • 4 minutes of rowing - goal = 1,000 meters

Round Two - 3 Minutes Per Station (12 Minutes Total)

Station One - 

  • 1 Minute Up and Overs on the Stepper 
  • 1 Minute Weighted Punches
  • 1 Minute Burpees with a Push-Up on the Stepper 

Station Two - The Ropes

  • One partner stands on weights while the other does rope variation (squat jumps, in and outs or burpees) 
  • Pull the weight/ropes towards you 
  • Push the weight back 
  • Switch 

Station Three - Weights 

  • 10 Reps Squat/Curl/Press with 12 lb dumbbells 
  • 10 Reps Row/Tricep Extension with 8 lb dumbbells 
  • 10 Reps V-Ups with 12 lb dumbbells 

Station Four - WaterRower

  • 3 minutes of 100 meter intervals alternating with your partner (who is on the machine next to you)  

What I Liked 

The instructor explained all of the exercises which was helpful as a newcomer to a class that seemed to be compromised primarily of "regulars." 

I loved that I was dripping in sweat at the end, loved that it was quick & to the point, loved that it featured cardio & strength moves and loved getting to use the ropes and the WaterRowers. 

What Could Be Better

Though the class description made it seem like this would be a competition - the instructor that I took didn't lead it in that way at all. I think that could have added a lot to the class and kicked up the intensity another notch. 

Post-Class

After class I did my physical therapy exercises - side planking and glute bridging up a storm. 

The Locker Rooms

Ok - I will admit that the showers at Equinox are pretty damn magical. There's a whole bench section with towel hooks that's separate from the actual shower and those Kiehl's products are pretty awesome. 

The lockers are digital so there's no need to bring a lock. 

And get this - there is a STEAMER for your clothes. 

Mind blow. 

More to come on my 7 days at Equinox, stay tuned! Tomorrow I'm signed up for a spin class! 

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7 Reasons to Find Yourself a Weight Date

For a long time, I've loved working out. A sweat sesh a day wasn't a chore - it was my favorite part of the day. My "me" time. 

I had goals, I made progress, I learned a ton. I challenged myself to go faster, to run longer, to get stronger. But recently I've been discouraged to find that my trips to the gym left me feeling uninspired, frustrated and just plain bored.

Leaving the gym used to make me feel like I had just kicked ass and was ready to go out and conquer my day. Even if life and NYC were making me feel a bit small and beat down - in the gym I was on top of the world. But these days, I feel like I'm in a rut that not even dumbbells and burpees can lift me out of. 

Throughout this rut I've gone back and forth between "just push through, it will get better, just go, you won't regret it" and "my bed sounds like a better plan than another disappointing and un-enjoyable workout." 

If you've ever found yourself floundering on the fitness-front, I have a game-changer for you and I'm calling it the WEIGHT DATE. 

Don't worry - this has nothing to do with setting weigh-in dates or a weight loss challenge. 

It has everything to do with finding a badass lady friend to be your motivator if you're struggling to motivate yourself. 

There's certainly something to be said for solo time at the gym - you can get in the zone, focus on the exercises that you want to, go your own speed, and get that quality "me" time that we all need. 

But nothing has shaken up my fitness routine and put the fun back in my gym-time in the past few months like the workouts I've done with a friend. Here's why. 

1. Accountability 

If your weight date is going to be at the gym at 7:00 a.m. - she's counting on your to be there too. Knowing that you're letting someone else down if you hit the snooze button is a major incentive to get out of bed in the morning. 

And if your workout is scheduled at the end of the work day - that can be even harder to show up for. But it's better when, again, you know there's someone waiting for you. 

2. That Extra Oomph

My biggest problem recently was that I left the gym feeling like I just hadn't pushed myself. I hadn't put in a big enough effort and as a result, I felt completely unsatisfied. Sure I had gotten myself to the gym, but I took shortcuts  and that really bothered me. 

I wasn't doing a good job embracing discomfort, and that's something that you have to do at the gym. It's not supposed to be easy.  

If you're like me, a little bit of competition goes a long way. While my weight date and I are certainly not competing, we are pushing each other and that has been HUGE for me. 

"Let's do 12 reps!"

"Well, I usually do 10 but I guess I'll try 12!"

"If she can do :45 of mountain climbers, I guess I'll try to do :45 too instead of my usual :30!"

Competition is the wrong work - we're working together to push ourselves further. 

That being said, being comfortable and communicating with your workout buddy is key. Many times I've had to say, "there's no way I can do that exercise with the same weight as you, I need to drop down 10 pounds." Heck, I'll even do things unweighted while my weight date busts it out with 25 pounds. 

But you'll be much more likely to give that extra oomph, to try those extra reps, to go up those 5 extra pounds, when your weight date gives you that motivation. 

3. Changin' It Up 

Another main reason I was bored at the gym was I had stopped trying new things. I was totally stuck in my boring old comfort zone. 

Finding a workout partner automatically gives you double the options when you're in the gym because I guarantee you that you'll each have a different arsenal of torture techniques. Er, exercises. 

I've been able to step outside my comfort zone and try a ton of knew things thanks to partner workouts. At first, my immediate response was, "No I definitely can't do that - I'll just stick with the version that I'm used to." 

It made all the difference in the world to be told, "No, just try." Eventually, I did and BOOM - so many new favorite exercises! 

4. Whole New Kinda Circuit 

I love doing circuit workouts where I rotate through a number of different exercises. But the breaks I take between each exercise and each set have been starting to get seriously long. 

With a partner, the intensity of your circuits can go up a whole notch. While one partner does one exercise, the other does something else. Then - switch. 

So instead of exercise, rest, exercise, rest it becomes exercise, exercise, exercise, exercise. 

It's wonderful in an "I think I'm going to throw up" kind of way. 

5. Built In Cheerleader 

Having someone to give you little cheers of motivation along the way helps a TON. Just hearing, "You've got this" or "One more round" can do a lot to keep you going and to keep you giving it your all. 

It's also great to have someone to look over on minute #5 of planking and to exchange that look of, "OMG I'M DYING BUT WE TOTALLY GOT THIS." 

Plus, there's nothing like sharing a victorious high five after a killer workout. 

6. Challenge

Something my weight date and I have just naturally started doing is adding little challenges in throughout our workouts. 

Today, for example, we agreed to do a 3 minute warm-up rotating through jumping jacks, high knees and butt kicks. As our final 30 seconds expired I called an audible - finish with 10 burpees! 

My weight date could now leave the gym with 10 more burpees under her belt than she would have had she been working out alone. 

Later on, she threw down the gauntlet on me as we finished our last round of 10 sumo squat jumps and 10 squat/side kicks. "20 this round!" she exclaimed as I silently cursed her. 

But did I do them? Yep. Was I glad for the challenge? You better believe it. 

7. Exchange of Ideas

Throughout the week, my weight date and I tag each other in cool exercises we see on social media, text about our solo runs and workouts, and just generally keep fitness on the brain. 

It makes me excited to know that the next time we work out together we'll have new ideas so that the workout is always far from boring. 

This exchange of ideas also keeps each gym-sesh moving quickly. Instead of finishing an exercise and standing there for 3 minutes while I figure out what I want to do next - when there are two brains involved, it's a lot easier to throw out an idea and get down to business.

YOUR TURN
DO YOU WORK OUT WITH A FRIEND? 
DO YOU WORK OUT IN A GROUP? 
DO YOU PREFER TO WORK OUT ALONE? 
HOW DO YOU GET YOURSELF THROUGH A FITNESS RUT?

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The Room Where It Happened

It’s normal for me to hear a song on the radio and think to myself, “Wow this beat would be great for climbing a hill in spin class!” Or, “This would be amazing for jumps!” Whenever I hear Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” I wish I was on a stationary bike. Does this make me weird? Probably.

But I can’t help it that some songs just make me want to sweat.

While I haven’t spent a small fortune to buy myself a ticket to see HAMILTON on Broadway – I have had the soundtrack on repeat for about 2 months. So when I discovered that Cyc’s Hell’s Kitchen spin studio would be offering a HAMILTON themed ride, I knew the $30 price tag was worth it.

To be in a room with 40+ other people who wanted to work out to showtunes was bound to mean I was in good company. And to be led by the instructor that wanted to put on this class surely meant he was wonderful.

Hamilton Spin Class

The space on 8th Avenue is pretty large, with a big open locker section in the middle for people that don’t need to change along with smaller locker rooms for Men and Women with showers and amenities like q-tips, tampons, hair dryers, hair gel, etc.

This is also a studio that offers complimentary spin shoe rental (the worst is paying $30 for a spin class and THEN needing to rent spin shoes for $7). And inside the building is the Glam & Go studio if you should ever need to go from a spin class to a fancy event. You never know. Birthday spin class + blow out + boozy brunch sounds pretty great to me now that I think of it…(#basic).

Before class, everyone was milling around in the middle section and it seemed like they all knew each other. I got a really nice community vibe from the place and there was an audible gasp of excitement when the HAMILTON soundtrack started playing over the loudspeakers.

The 5:30 class let out of the studio and their energy was super high, super friendly, and they all seemed like they were best friends who just had a great night out together.

The 6:30 HAMILTON riders walked into the studio and what I initially thought were two separate studios turned out to be one massive studio with tons of bikes.

Our instructor had great energy, and explained that he had been begging to do this theme-ride forever. I was so excited to be a part of it – especially after he explained that his “dream” was for everyone to fist pump and yell “WORK” during Schuyler Sisters. That sounds like a dream I would have.

The class was really fun, because the instructor was clearly having the time of his life, it was impossible for everyone else not to get into it. Plus, that soundtrack is just A++++.

That being said, I don’t love the type of spinning that studios like Cyc promote. It’s more like dancing on your bike – which is fun, but seems very likely to cause injury since it’s jerky movements that count the beat on one side. I always feel like I’m jamming down on my right hip. Not to mention there is almost no resistance on the bike so your legs are spinning dangerously fast. Some of the moves were just so stupid (in my mind) that I didn’t do them.

Cyc, like a lot of studios, also does weighted songs throughout the class for arm work. They always kill me, despite the fact that you use very light weights, and this class was no exception. I would much rather do 10 reps with heavy weights then 100 with light weights – although I know that both have their place in overall strength work.

I could have sat there spinning to Lin Manuel Miranda’s silky smooth rapping all day – but before I knew it we were wrapping up class with Jonathan Groff singing to us.

Afterwards, we took a group picture and though I felt like an outsider, there was such a great sense of community. I can tell that Cyc attracts a lot of “regulars.” It was even more obvious when they brought a cake for someone’s birthday and we all sang.

At the end of the day, I had a great time. Though Cyc isn’t my favorite spin studio, I will say that their instructors have a great energy, the space is beautiful, the community feel is super welcoming and I LOVE the fact that they did a HAMILTON themed-ride. I would definitely go back for another themed-ride that appealed to me, but probably not for just any other class.

Try your first class at Cyc using my referral code and we'll both get some fab savings ;) 
http://cycfit.me/SQU  THANKS! <3

YOUR TURN:
Do you know the type of spinning I’m talking about, or am I crazy?
What is your dream song to hill-climb to?
What’s the most important part of a great spin class for you? Music, instructor, lighting?